Spearman Premier at Kartong Festival

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After a full week of preparation it was the day that we present Spearman at the Kartong International Festival 2017. The first challenge was to transport the screen to the festival site about 5 km away from the Eco-Lodge. I enquired about hiring a donkey. After about an hour, I cancelled this idea and hired a pick-up truck. After half an hour we received a call to say it had a flat tyre. So, in true Gambian fashion, my friend Simon one of the Managers at Sandele offered the use of his car, and Bansang set to work stripping fallen palm branches to use a a makeshift roof rack. In a crude way this worked well and we loaded the screen onto the roof, and all the equipment into the car.

When we arrived at the festival site we were informed that there was no electricity. We could only cross our fingers, put our faith in Bansang and the festival Manager Mood and hope that things would work out. Patiently we waited, set up the equipment, made other arrangements with the members of the performing group Kouma Kan and fielded questions from the curious children of the village. With just one hour to go the electricity returned, and a flood of festival spotlights lit up the arena as the evening became dark.

Our performance time was scheduled for 10pm. I had previously performed at the Festival three times, and stage managed the program for two years. So, it was good to catch up with local musicians and enjoy the community atmosphere. Ten o'clock came and we were on. The energy of Kouma Kan's performance was lifted by the euphoric reaction from the audience as they chanted Spearman in expectation of his arrival on the screen. Then Kye revealed his life-size image, and it was truly an homecoming for him. The response we received after was of amazement and wonder, as in the photos the camera flash depicts the grey of the projection screen, however on the actual night, with the festicval lights dimmed, in darkness you could only make out a life-size image of Spearman performing next to his troupe.

We were extremely relieved and proud to successfully deliver the project, after the challenges that we faced in the month building up to the performance. We are both extremely grateful for the opportunity to expand our international portfolio and now looking forward to planning for a presentation of Spearman in England.

 

Searching for Spearman

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We have just returned from künzelsau, Germany, where we recorded Spearman performing the traditional West African costume. It was an emotional journey and reunion with Spearman. Our flight took us to Stuttgart, where we hired a car to drive to künzelsau. We met Spearman late in the evening of arrival at an address on würzburger straße künzelsau. It was an accommodation of flats where refugees were housed, and there was a security kiosk outside with a very unfriendly and suspicious guard. We took spear for a coffee and he explained that the accommodation was full of many West African's, often sleeping about 17 to a room. We discussed the plans for filming and Spearman explained the location he recommended, so we agreed to met him the following day.

The next day we met at the Christengemeinde Arche (Church), which ran a drop in centre for refugees. It was a place that had helped Spearman and he was now reciprocating their charity by volunteering support for less fortunate refugees.

We were offered a private room and we commenced with the filming of Spearman. Myself and Spearman were so grateful to reconnect through the language of the Djembe (drum), he had missed the brotherhood to our group Kouma Kan and the music was a connection too his home village of Kartong.